Watching a movie should be a magical experience, one that transports the mind to places it wouldn't otherwise go. Nothing undercuts that faster than traipsing down a sticky aisle to squeeze into a creaky seat and watch a movie where some guy just staples paper for an hour. The experience couldn't be more opposite at Hollywood Blvd. and Hollywood Palms Cinemas, where people might start an action-packed new release or cult classic by meeting the film's stars. Fans of the theater have written tons of appreciative letters, recalling their experiences hobnobbing with Tippi Hedren before a showing of The Birds, or seeing a cast reunion of Back to the Future, which one mega-fan wrote was "one of the best experiences of [their] life."
But it's not just these meet-and-greets that elevate the experience at Hollywood's theaters. Instead of cramped row seating, there are high-backed swivel chairs encircling tables, and instead of concession stands, there're servers ferrying food and beverages to tables throughout the show. The extensive menu is mostly upscale casual dishes, including the Whoopi Goldburger with Angus beef, bacon, and barbecue sauce. From the bar, guests can order Rat Pack–inspired martinis, craft beers, or specialty cocktails such as the Tequila Mockingbird margarita with raspberry liqueur.
At each location, the architecture and decor rivals that of a film set. The lobby at Hollywood Blvd. is a replica of Grauman's Chinese Theater, and at Hollywood Palms, individual screening rooms pay homage to Marilyn Monroe and The Wizard of Oz. Not surprisingly, the Hollywood Blvd. theater has an on-site museum with real movie artifacts, including costumes worn by the Munchkins, whom the theater successfully petitioned to receive their own star on the Walk of Fame.
At Safari Café, people sip coffee and espresso beverages made from local Arbor Vitae roasts and munch fresh paninis, salads, and pizzas that populate a menu of café fare. Caffeinate for a morning commute or late night of tracing new constellations with a double-shot of espresso cloaked in Ghirardelli Chocolate sauce and steamed milk ($4.99). Hot drinks such as mocha ($3.35–$4.25) percolate alongside their chilled brethren, while the hearty Lion Appetite breakfast includes a trio of pancakes fortified with turkey bacon or sausage and two eggs ($4.99). Lunchtime snacks and sandwiches include The Beast ($5.99+), a baked helping of steak and mozzarella cheese as tender and gooey as a love note from a jellyfish.
The 50 flavors of frozen yogurt at Yumz are packed with bold flavors and healthful probiotics. They are also made with fat-free, natural ingredients, yielding healthful treats that mimic sensations ranging from biting into a slice of watermelon to eating the huge red velvet cake that toppled onto your legs and trapped you in the kitchen. The selection of more than 70 toppings includes strawberries, brownies, Snickers, cheesecake bites, and Oreos, and patrons can also build their own combinations for the world to see with an online platform.
In the kitchens of Blueberry Hill's five suburban outposts, cooks forgo lazy morning lounging to pull together homey assortments of timeless brunch fare. Pancakes infused with fruit or sweets are made from scratch, much like hand-knitted socks or hand-painted report cards. French-toast slices get stuffed with apple and cream cheese, smothered in fruit, or rolled in Cap'n Crunch. Fresh meats and veggies take cover under eggs in savory skillets, and a selection of sandwiches quells cravings in handheld form.